Fuji Super GT: Makino tops practice for Honda

Ex-Formula 2 racer Tadasuke Makino set the pace in the Team Kunimitsu Honda NSX-GT on the opening day of practice for the 2020 SUPER GT season at Fuji Speedway.

The arrival of heavy fog at the Toyota-owned track resulted in a 75-minute delay to proceedings, with the session being cut by 20 minutes to an hour-and-a-half.

Makino’s best time of 1m27.248s came in the final 10 minutes, reserved for the faster GT500 cars, and was enough to beat fellow Honda driver Tomoki Nojiri by 0.031s.

Prior to the final shootout, Nirei Fukuzumi in the #8 ARTA Honda had set the pace with a 1m27.596s, which was eclipsed by first Nojiri and then finally Makino.

Third-fastest was reigning SUPER GT champion Kenta Yamashita – deputising for the absent Heikki Kovalainen – in the best of the all-new Toyota GR Supras, 0.122s off the pace in the #39 SARD car, just ahead of Sacha Fenestraz in the #36 TOM’S Toyota.

#39 DENSO KOBELCO SARD GR Supra

Photo by: GTA

New Envision Virgin Formula E signing Nick Cassidy ran wide at Turn 1 as he began a hot lap but recovered to set the fifth-fastest time in the sister #37 TOM’S car.

Next up were the two Cerumo-run Supras, Hiroaki Ishiura taking sixth in the #38 car ahead of Sho Tsuboi in the #14 machine, followed by Koudai Tsukakoshi in the #17 Real Racing Honda.

Best of the non-Bridgestone cars was the Red Bull-liveried Mugen Honda, which uses Yokohama rubber, in ninth with SUPER GT rookie Ukyo Sasahara at the wheel.

Nissan suffered a session to forget with none of its four GT-Rs breaking into the top 10.

The Yokohama marque’s fastest representative was the Michelin-shod #3 NDDP/B-Max car of Katsumasa Chiyo, more than a second slower than the benchmark set by Makino, ahead of Ronnie Quintarelli in the works #23 NISMO entry.

#23 MOTUL AUTECH GT-R

Photo by: GTA

In GT300, the Cars Tokai Dream28 Lotus Evora shot to the top of the times in the 10-minute window reserved for the 29-car junior class in the hands of Masataka Yanagida.

Former Nissan GT500 man Yanagida set a best time of 1m36.719s to eclipse the benchmark of 1m36.817s that reigning champion Shinichi Takagi had set in the ARTA Honda NSX GT3 during the regular portion of the session.

Third-fastest was Naoya Gamou at the wheel of the LEON Mercedes-AMG GT3, followed by the #11 Gainer Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 and the works-entered R&D Sport Subaru BRZ.

With bad weather forecast at Fuji for Sunday morning when qualifying is due to take place, Friday’s times could end up determining the grid for the 2020 curtain-raiser.

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